Disney World parks in Orlando, Florida are open again nearly four months after they shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom reopened Saturday, while Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will reopen on July 15.
The moves come as Florida continues to rack up near-record numbers of new coronavirus cases.
The state reported 11,433 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, Florida’s biggest daily increase since July 3, when 11,458 cases were recorded. Florida’s health department reported 435 more hospitalizations — the state’s largest single-day increase. The statewide COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 4,100.
The United States recorded over 70,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time Friday. States such as California, Texas and Georgia contributed to the record-breaking nationwide tally, as well as Florida.
The spike in cases has prompted many cities and counties around Florida to reinstate restrictions and safety protocols that had been lifted in May, when cases seemed to drop.
But the Disney parks are reopening, with new rules in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Visitors are required to practice social distancing and wear face masks. Only people with reservations can enter the parks and they won’t be allowed to hop between parks. Tickets for the month of July have already been sold out, NBC’s affiliate in Miami, Florida, WTVJ, reported.
Both visitors and employees will have their temperatures checked before they’re allowed in. Fireworks shows and parades will remain suspended to prevent big gatherings of people.
A rehearsal with employees, bloggers and other influencers took place Thursday ahead of the reopening.
“I’m not gonna lie, it was a little strange because we’re so used to seeing all the cast members, with their smiles and everything,” a visitor told WTVJ.
All Disney parks in Orlando closed down in mid-March in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In April, Disney furloughed around 100,000 theme park and hotel workers, including cast members who play the beloved Walt Disney characters in Florida and elsewhere.
Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, which closed around the same time, reopened several weeks ago with safety protocols to protect employees and customers from the virus.
In May, the company reopened the Disney Springs shopping complex in Lake Buena Vista, alongside some restaurants and entertainment venues. Disney Vacation Club properties at Walt Disney World and Disney’s Wilderness Resort & Campground are also open to members and guests.
While most Disney sites in Florida are slowly reopening, Disneyland in California is still closed.